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Dialogue - the Spoken Word



By Jaideep Sen

Ever since I changed the ringtone of my cell phone from Sholay’s “Yeh Dosti” song to the dialogue from Trishul— Main paanch laakh ka sauda karne aaya hoon aur meri jeb mein paanch phooti koudiyan bhi nahin hain”—innumerable compliments have been pouring in about the ringtone.  So much so that if the phone is lying next to me and I pick it up instantly, the caller feels disappointed that she or he couldn’t savour the complete dialogue and relish its recall value. On several occasions I’ve asked them to call back again and taken the call after a few seconds to allow them to enjoy this immortal dialogue—through their ears and into their hearts.


The Father-Son Conflict in Trishul: Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan
These compliments actually got me thinking about the quality and impact of Dialogues by the Masters of Writing Salim Saab – Javed Saab. It also gives me the opportunity to offer this piece as a humble birthday gift to Javed Saab on the occasion of his 75th birthday today.


Ironically, in Salim Saab’s own words, Dialogue writing is the least challenging of the three aspects of writing: story, screenplay and dialogue; Screenplay being the most difficult mountain to climb because even a good Story can be underwhelming if told in an uninteresting way and if it doesn’t surprise the audience at regular intervals. But here the incessant compliments about the ringtone drew my attention to how much well written dialogues impact and stay back with the listener and in this case took them back so many years into the world of one of Salim Saab – Javed Saab’s slightly underrated and lesser talked about gems, Trishul.


Sudha Chopra and Sanjeev Kumar in Trishul
I say slightly underrated because somewhere it got eclipsed by the gigantic shadow of success that Deewaar and Sholay achieved. Trishul is an extraordinarily powerful take on illegitimacy and was walking a tight rope of a man on a mission of bringing down his biological father for having wronged his mother. Conceptually, one would feel that the father – R.K. Gupta – played with absolutely the right blend of arrogance and vulnerability by Sanjeev Kumar Ji is in the wrong. But when I recently saw the film, the scene in which the young R.K Gupta’s mother played with such conviction by Sudha Chopra Ji emotionally convinces him to marry Kamini and not Shanti, I quite absolved the young R.K Gupta of betrayal. I doff my hat to Salim Saab and Javed Saab for such balanced and sensitive writing.


Salim Saab had once told me that what is morally wrong can never be emotionally right which is why we the audience are always on an emotional see-saw in the fight between Vijay and R.K. Gupta because both are right and wrong in their own way. So much so that when a very senior filmmaker was seeing a preview of Trishul  he’d told Salim Saab at the interval that the film wouldn’t work due to the dynamic of a son destroying his father. But in the second half when Vijay slaps Balwant Rai for abusing R.K Gupta, the same filmmaker told Salim Saab that with this sequence they’ve vindicated Vijay for not allowing anyone else to trespass into his fight with R.K. Gupta. That itself, in his view made it a successful film.  


The ambulance scene in Trishul
Trishul did not only become a very successful film but is also a special film in Salim Saab-Javed Saab’s career because it was the first time in their career till then that they on seeing the final cut of the film felt it did not have the same bite as its predecessors Zanjeer, Deewaar and Sholay. They decided to add some teeth to the screenplay and for the first time did some additional writing – this was how the famous ambulance beat literally drove its way into the film where Vijay before beating the daylights out of his opponents has an ambulance ready to take them to hospital.


How tall Trishul stands to date amongst Salim Saab- Javed Saab’s priceless body of work finds its validation in the compliments that I have received for something that was written more than 40 years back underlining their genius and the power of their dialogue, the spoken word.





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